20131031_tukwila_parkingTo fill the seemingly insatiable demand for parking at Tukwila International Blvd Station, Sound Transit has leased 62 additional spaces nearby.  They are available Monday to Friday, 4:30am to 6:30pm.

Mike Lindblom asks the most pertinent questions ($) about this parking:

Sound Transit is paying the city of SeaTac $4,410 per month to lease the space, said spokesman Bruce Gray. If the spaces are filled, this translates to about a $3.40 subsidy per parked car.

There are a lot of things to think about this. The STB community reflex is to note that drivers, as usual, are paying nothing despite the additional subsidy from the transit system. And that’s true.

On the other hand, leasing space is a much less permanent — and therefore much better — arrangement than buying and building more free parking right next to the station. If this parking really brings 62 new riders per weekday to the system, Sound Transit only has to yield $1.70 per boarding for this move to pay off, because the marginal cost to serve those passengers is zero. By comparison, the typical full fare is $2.75, before various discounts for employer deals, passes, shorter trips, senior fares, and whatnot.

In my view, the most irritating thing about this arrangement is the total abdication of the city’s responsibility to provide access to its stations. It’s outrageous that Seatac, honored with one of only thirteen stations in the region, would try to extract its pound of flesh rather than do everything it can to make sure the region’s investment in it is worthwhile by just providing the parking. For more marginal service like North Sounder, this ethic of waiting around for Sound Transit to provide improved station access may prove fatal when the reckoning comes. In this case, it’s taking funds that might be used for more express bus service elsewhere in South King County, about enough to (as a rough example) pay for another weekday round trip on the 577.

[Side Note: This is STB’s 5,000th post. Thanks for all the good times.]

52 Replies to “More Parking at TIBS”

  1. Small quibble – it looks like the city of Sea-Tac has 2 Link stations and will have a 3rd when Angle Lake Station opens in 2016. (although looking at SeaTac’s street map http://goo.gl/h38AcR makes it seem that TIB station may actually be inside the city of Tukwila’s boundaries)

    What could a city like SeaTac do to make access to these stations more accessible? And are the people parking here even from SeaTac?

    1. Very good question. I assume that you can’t park here overnight (like most park and rides). But parking here all day is fine. So, let’s say I work in Portland, but live in Renton. I drive to the Park and Ride, take a quick ride on the train to the airport (which is better than a shuttle) and hop on the plane. Sounds like a sweet deal. Thanks SeaTac!

      Seriously, though, what is there to prevent this? Do they charge for these spots?

      1. I think the high cost and low convenience of a daily SeaTac-Portland commute prevents it. Portland is close and airports are a hassle. Maybe someone might do this to go to SF, but it’s just hard to imagine anyone doing it all that often.

      2. I think you would be surprised at the number of people who fly and return in the same day on a regular basis. Usually not every day — you are right about that. But I know someone who made regular trips to Portland as well as someone else who made regular trips to San Fransisco. It seems nuts, but if your job depends on it, then you do it. Maybe not for the rest of your life, but a few days a week for six months? Sure. But my point is that it doesn’t take that many people doing this sort of thing to fill up a parking lot. These are highly paid professionals. It is quite likely that Sound Transit is subsidizing this airline based commute. Then there are the folks that actually fly the commuter planes or are airline attendants. Not to mention all of the people who work all day at the airport itself. It is easy to assume that this suburban parking lot is filled with people who would otherwise be clogging I-5 on the way to downtown, but my guess is a very high percentage are simply avoiding the expensive parking at SeaTac.

      3. If these highly-paid professionals are taking day long business trips to Portland or SF, why wouldn’t they park at the airport and expense it? Using Link makes sense if they could avoid taking the car, but going to a free parking lot and dealing with a transfer wouldn’t be worth it if someone else is paying for it.

    2. I think TIBS is just outside SeaTac, and it’s well known that people come from all over the place to P&R at TIBS. Unless the city (or some private operator) is willing to charge market rate for parking, this may be a location where a body with wider scope than a city should fund parking.

      As for the general question of TIBS access, local street connectivity around there isn’t very good. I hope as various parcels in the area are redeveloped some attention is paid to that by developers and whatever city is involved. The station is really nestled up against the 99/518 interchange, and that doesn’t make it easy.

      1. SeaTac is a suburban small city. It has evolved from a rural landscape. The people who live in most parts of SeaTac will never walk to get anywhere. TIB was not built to attract a walk shed. But that being said, the sidewalks and crossing infrastructure from TIB in my view is actually not bad.

      2. @Charles: And Seattle has evolved from… forests and marshes. What defines it today is what we built over that, for better and worse.

        The station absolutely wasn’t sited great for a walkshed, but there still is one to the north and east. If you look at what’s there, little of it screams, “Permanent!” With the airport-related noise and traffic this area will probably never be the chosen neighborhood of the rich, but there are already lots of apartments in the area and there probably will be more — there’s no shortage of demand for affordable homes with great transit access, and areas like this are key ports of entry for newcomers and immigrants today (increasingly true in Seattle and other American cities, long true in Europe). American suburbs of the 21st century ain’t American suburbs of the 20th century — they just happen to occupy the same land!

        A relatively walkable district on 154th with locally-focused businesses (businesses serving daily needs of people living nearby) and public amenities would be a fine complement to the station, even if it’s never a regional destination. Nothing that’s there now would prevent it. As you say, the sidewalks and crossings are good (even along and across 99). 154th even has bike lanes. And improved local street connectivity would complement that, as it will in Bel-Red, which is why it’s part of the plan there.

  2. I wonder how much pressure will be taken off TIBS when Angle Lake opens? I assume a lot of Federal Way (and other “southern”) users will find Angle Lake to be the more convenient point of embarkation. My West Hill Kent residing parents are looking forward to the new station, and love giving me construction updates as they pass by.

    1. I wouldn’t be surprised if both TIBS and Angle Lake max out– there will be a lot of latent demand, especially with so many South King residents looking to get into town.

      1. If you want to get downtown from Kent when Sounder isn’t running and don’t want to endure the hour+ long slog on the 150, driving and parking at TIBS is the only reasonable option, short of driving all the way downtown.

  3. So, if the SeaTac center garage is considered close enough to the station for people to walk and an on-street F-line stop would be even closer, why does Metro insist that the F-line has to deviate into the parking lot to get a few feet even closer? This is a needless delay that simply gives people headed from Burien to Southcenter one more excuse to drive.

    1. Absolutely agree. I can see a plausible argument that the SeaTac center garage is there for people that decide they’re OK with walking that distance. But the walk from the eastbound F-Line stop would be really easy, faster for anyone that’s in a hurry than staying on the bus, down a path that looks purpose-built for carrying people making transfers. The westbound stop would be a little worse but it’s right outside the overflow lot for the station.

      Seattle is hardly alone in sending its buses down loops near train stations; I think in Chicago every new station built for the Orange Line (Halsted and everything outbound of it) has a bus loop, most of dubious benefit (the stations are otherwise similar to older L stations that work great without bus loops). But Seattle relies on buses to be faster over longer distances than most cities, and our operational funding is often in peril compared to the cities we want to emulate. We really need bus routes like the F Line to be efficient.

      1. I’m sorry but I disagree with the idea of making people walk outside of a transfer station. The whole purpose of a transfer station is to facilitate multimodal transfers. Yes Chicago has several transfer stations and they work quite well. A transfer station offers the possibility of cover from rain or snow, seating, (in Chicago’s use case, heated areas), lighted and security patrolled areas, vending, or in some rare cases restroom facilities.

        Look at the disaster that is Mt. Baker transit center.

      2. Chicago’s “transfer stations” work fine unless you’re trying to ride a bus through. In that case (common enough for me when I lived there) you hate them as much as everyone going through (which is most people) hates South Kirkland P&R. But where Chicago’s local buses are just local buses, the F Line is supposed to be a core regional route.

        In any case, what it does at the Link station isn’t half as bad as what it does around Southcenter and the Sounder station. That isn’t even Metro’s fault — the area is not laid out well for east-west transit.

      3. Well, somebody said earlier the majority of ridership on the 140 is to/from Southcenter, not from Renton to Burien. So that would justify the Southcenter detour, which will also be less convoluted with the F, and even less when the viaduct across the railroad track is built. It takes a long time to get from Renton to TIB to transfer to Link, but that’s why the 101 exists. (Ducking…)

      4. Of course the 140/F Line should go to Southcenter, indeed, that’s one of the most important destinations on its way. It just shouldn’t have to make so many turns, or wind around so much to do it. That’s a question of infrastructure design. Sometimes I think I should calculate the average amount of time that distance and turns add to a bus route, convert that to a monetary cost for a bus route with a number of runs per day typical of Seattle, print it on some nice looking cards, and hand it out to designers like some kind of crazy person. “When thinking of the cost of this project, remember: every mile you add to a bus route costs $XX/yr, and every turn costs $YY/yr… forever — but if you make it possible to straighten and shorten routes without making them less effective, you save this money, forever, and of course endear yourself to the passengers.”

        As the proposed F-Line route approaches Southcenter from the west, it overshoots its eventual course by the mall (Andover Park West) to the east before turning south, then back west to meet it (this overshoot costs about .4 miles in each direction, and is probably considered necessary for coverage of offices north of 405, but that could also be achieved with a better road layout that didn’t force the overshoot). Then it overshoots the Sounder platform to the south before coming east and then north to it (I’m assuming going south to Strander is considered necessary for coverage, but coming back north? The Sounder platform is currently being rebuilt — if it were rebuilt at Strander, where the F Line wouldn’t have to divert to meet it, that would save about a half-mile on the route and three turns in each direction). Then, though its eventual course is north, it turns south before heading east (but work to fix that is underway).

    2. It isn’t, it’s a bad, but relatively cheap alternative to building a huge garage at TIBS instead of the grossly undersized parking lot they have now..

      1. All over the country and all over the world people walk similar distances from parking spaces to train platforms (crossing a road as big as 99 is less typical but hardly unheard of, and of course people P&R’ing to bus services on major highways do this).

        At TIBS it’s particularly appropriate to avoid building a huge garage Right On Site Right Now because after the garage at S 200th opens it may not be needed there, or different land use may be considered preferable. If people are willing to walk such distances, maybe something different can be build in the blocks adjacent to the station… and we could start to have land use similar to that in places where people actually walk and use transit. There’s no good reason that areas adjacent to train platforms should be held in reserve only for parking and bus loops.

    3. I’m sure that service planning staff have already thought of have the 140 stop on 154th/Southcenter Blvd. If they aren’t doing it now, there must be some reason that is outside Metro’s control.

      1. ST has certainly thought about it. I think the opposition comes from the city of Tukwila. Probably worries about slowing down cars or something.

  4. Link’s average fare per boarding was $1.53 in 2011, so it’s still short of $1.70. It may be higher now, but for the parking subsidy to come close to paying off, we’d have to assume that 1) there really will be 62 new riders, and 2) we can apply the AFB to them as well. On the flip side, I would suspect that new riders are more likely to be buying tickets and paying the full fare. But this is a perpetual lease, whereas new riders don’t remain “new” for very long.

    1. The assumption that this will really create 62 new riders is incredibly optimistic. First, many people won’t even know about these new spaces. Second, these new spaces come with new rules, like you have to vacate by 6:30 PM, making them unattractive for people headed downtown during the early afternoon – precisely the time when the regular lot is full and the supplemental lot is most needed. The spaces will also be completely unavailable during events on evenings and weekends – including virtually every Mariners, Seahawks, and Sounders game. Third, you increase the number of parking spaces, you make driving to the station more attractive, and thereby induce some people who previously rode the A-line or some other bus to the station to drive instead.

      Considering that ST still has to pay for every space, every day, whether it actually gets used per not, the per-car subsidy, in practice, is likely to be fare more than $3.40

      1. Oh, and it is also incredibly optimistic to assume that not a single one of these spaces will ever be used for anything non-Sound-Transit-related. The sign may say “transit users only”, but unless people leave their cars there overnight, it’s a sign that is fundamentally unenforceable.

      2. What about graveyard shifters who park might park for free at TIBS, take Link down to the airport, and then come back in the morning? Should ST discriminate against graveyard shift workers?

    2. Sherwin,

      The mean fare from TIBS is likely to be at least a quarter or so higher than the system wide average fare, simply because most people are going downtown for $2.75. I think it’s fair to say that this will be a wash in the budget, except for the City of Seatac, and the drivers who save money on gas and parking.

  5. When I worked downtown, there were many people from Federal Way who used to drive up and park there to take LINK in. (They recounted their stories of the optimal times and places to find parking in the extended lot.)

    For many commuters the difference between taking one mode point to point and having to transfer is a dealbreaker. The kind that would make them consider driving in and parking in the city if they had to do even one transfer.

  6. Sound Transit just needs to build a comically-large garage and transfer facility at South 200th and call it a day.

    It would still be far, far more economical, both as a capital expenditure and for the sake of long-term sustainable service levels, than building miles of unneeded, overpriced elevated infrastructure through the petering sprawl.

    1. Of course, like most east coast cities and towns, they charge for the parking at the train stations.

      1. (in reference to the ‘comically large’ link in d.p.’s post refering to the MTBA station of Alewife)

      2. And in most east coast cities, the transit agencies provide transit and the cities or counties develop and charge for parking.

      3. Out west, we’re still in the mindset of ‘selling’ transit with various freebies.

        The freeways are free, after all.

      4. In the given example, the MBTA owns the garage outright. And, at a $7 flat rate and 2733 spaces often filled to capacity, I do believe the T turns an operating profit on the existing structure. (The agency has noted that it lacks the capital to add two stories to the garage, which demand would warrant.)

        My comparison between Alewife and S.200th-as-enshrined-terminus is bolstered by the ridership numbers: including those arriving by parked car, drop-off, bicycle, bus, or foot, 10,657 boardings take place at the Alewife terminus daily. (That means entries only.) By contrast, “ridership” on the entire South Link segment from S.200th to Federal Way is predicted to be less than “23,000” (i.e. 11,500 actual human beings). For 7.5 miles of additional track, billions of additional dollars, yet zero additional walkable destinations served.

        Just let ’em park or transfer at the point where cost and service value coincide!

      5. Interesting. Massachusetts has a “Personal Property Tax” (what some might call an asset tax, or intangible property tax).

        Things they can tax:

        First, Goods, chattels, money and effects, wherever they are; ships and vessels and their equipment at home or abroad, except as provided in section eight of this chapter, in chapter sixty B and in section sixty-seven of chapter sixty-three.

        Second, Money at interest, and other debts due the person to be taxed more than he is indebted or pays interest for; but not including in such debts due him or indebtedness from him any loan on mortgage of real estate, taxable as real estate, except the excess of such loan above the assessed value of the mortgaged real estate.

        Third, Public stocks and securities, bonds of railroads and street railways and stocks in turnpikes, bridges and moneyed corporations within or without this commonwealth.


  7. I wonder how well this will do since its so far away from the link station (2 legs of an intersection than some). Also this is another reason why its time to start charging for parking.

    1. That and the fact that you have to vacate the space by 6:30 PM. And, consider that people leaving work early are likely arriving at work early, therefore arriving at the main parking lot before it’s filled, therefore having no reason to park at the remote lot.

  8. Charging a dollar a day for parking — which coincides with the 30% cost recovery for which transit authorities seem to aim sounds like a bargain to me.

    1. Sound Transit shows 600 parking spaces at TIB station. At a $1 a day, that would be $600 * 22 (working days a month) = $13,300.

      The mechanism for collecting the parking fee might be a hangup.

      Tire shredders with a coin basket at the exits.

  9. Anyone heard of any updates to the idea of charging for some parking at the park-and-rides, leaving other spots for first-come-first serve? That way, if someone wants a ‘guaranteed’ parking spot, then they can pay a bit for it. I seem to remember this being brought up a while back.

  10. Complaining about park & riders not having to pay to park right before you beg car owners to bail out Metro. Pathetic.

    1. Yes, because who gets a better deal: me standing up on an SRO 40 bus at rush hour, or the guy whose car is in less traffic because the 80 or so people are crammed into that bus instead of driving themselves?

    2. Thursday was an extraordinarily bad traffic day on all highways. Imagine when a good chunk of those presently jamming the roads can instead take Link.

      1. When you’re unemployed and sleep on your brother’s couch and mooch money and food off him, you better hope he doesn’t quit his job. Translation: When you rely on car owners to fund public transit, you better hope they don’t give up their car.

      2. Yeah, right, Sam. That $20 annual tab (or $100, as the county could propose via public ballot), on top of paying several hundred dollars a month to operate the car and pay the financing on the car, will get people to give up their cars. It would be a nice result, but I haven’t heard any takers.

      3. Brent, I was responding to Charles, who said this, “Imagine when a good chunk of those presently jamming the roads can instead take Link.” Be careful what you wish for. If too many of your car-driving sugar daddies give up their cars to take the train or bus, your car-funded transit system will be in serious trouble.

      4. If that many people switch to transit, there will be more public support for dedicated transit funding, which will be needed because more buses will be necessary. It will also reduce congestion making buses run faster, although that’s only if other drivers don’t start making more trips to compensate.

      5. Sam, with MILLION and a half new people coming to this region, there will be no shortage of car users to make up for the ones that Link takes off the road. Indeed, I envision the challenge will be that we will need to build MORE capacity into our train systems.


      Symptom: dyspeptic grumbling in favor of “car owners”

      Cure: take to Orange Sunshine and call us in twelve hours

      (Yes, it’s a sure cure for all selfish bloviations).

Comments are closed.